Department of History

Adam Brode

  • PhD Candidate

A heritage learner of German, I attended Washington and Jefferson College from 2004-2008, where I earned a bachelor’s degree with a double major in History and German. From 2008-2011 I attended the University of Minnesota, where I earned a Master’s Degree in German Studies with a graduate minor in History. This degree also included a year-long graduate student exchange at the Humboldt University in Berlin, where I attended classes and taught a tutorial on the history of the United States. In my work at Pitt, I examine the history of German-speaking communities and enclaves in Eastern Europe in the early 20th century, with a focus on interethnic relations and the ideational construction of ethnic identity. Of especial interest to me are the aspects of the process of acquiring an ethnic identity, along with sentiments of national indifference or ambivalence. I am also interested in the changing uses to which space and architecture are put across time and the ramifications that an engagement with individual countries' multiethnic past can have for the future of European identity.

Teaching Experience

At Pitt, I have taught the introductory course “East European Civilization” during the summer of 2017, and I have been a teaching assistant for the following courses:  World War II in Europe, Western Civilization I, East European Civilization, and Europe since 1945.  I have taught five semesters of Introductory German at the University of Minnesota from 2008-2011, and also a historical tutorial for American Studies students at the Humboldt University in Berlin. I also have extensive experience as a professional German tutor. 

Representative Publications

(2017) “National activism and symbolic space: The struggle for Riga’s cathedral church in 1931” in Journal of Baltic Studies, Volume 48, issue 1:  Baltic German Perceptions of Belonging in the 19th and 20th Centuries, pp. 67-82

(2016) “Ethnicity, Class, and Local Patriotism: Change and Continuity in Riga City Government Before and After the First World War” in Latvijas Vēstures Institūta Žurnals (Journal of the Institute of Latvian History), nr. 4 (101), pp. 64-88

Conference Presentations

June 2017 – “Ethnicity, Space, and Collective Memory: Lieux-de-Memoire in Interwar Riga”, at The Baltic States at 99:  Past, Present, and Future:  The 12th Conference on Baltic Studies in Europe.  University of Latvia, Riga, Latvia.

May 2016 – “Die Wiedererfindung Rigas: Städtischer Raum und ethnischer Zugehörigkeit in der Hauptstadt Lettlands 1918-1934“ (“Re-inventing Riga: Urban Space and Ethnic Reversal 1918-1934”; in German), at Baltische Historische Kommission 69. Baltisches Historikertreffen (69th Baltic Historians’ Conference, Baltic Historical Commission). Göttingen, Germany

September 2015:  “Re-inventing Riga:  Urban Space and Ethnic Reversal in Latvia 1918-1940”, at the 5th Conference for Junior Researchers of the Baltic Sea Region: “Baltic Sea/eing:  Aspects of a Visual History”.  Academia Baltica, Sankelmark, Germany. 

February 2014 – “Pride of Place:  Symbolic Capital in Interwar Riga’s Churches” at the 11th Annual Conference of the Graduate Organization for the Study of Europe and Central Asia “The Seductions of Progress: Conceptual and Practical Approaches to Change in East Europe and Central Asia”. University of Pittsburgh.

September 2014:  Participant in DAAD-sponsored seminar, “German Community – German Nationality?  Perceptions of Belonging in the Baltics” at the 38th annual conference of the German Studies Association. Kansas City, MO.

Research Interests

Modern European History, Texts and Contexts, Interethnic Relations, European Nationalism, Baltic History, Urban History, History of Ostpolitik, German History, Germany and the East

PhD Dissertation

Dissertation Title:  "Reshaping Riga:  Urban Space and Ethnic Reversal 1918-1940"

Advisor: Gregor Thum

In my dissertation, I explore the physical and symbolic transformation of public space in interwar Riga as it unfolded along an (inter-)ethnic dimension, focusing on the years of democratic rule 1918-1934.  I examine a diverse array of urban spaces, including public buildings, schools and universities, museums, squares, monuments, cemeteries, parks, and city street and bridges.  Whether these spaces existed before the First World War or were creations of the new Latvian state, they played a large role in shaping the changing ethnic identity of Riga during the interwar period.  My dissertation focuses on relations between the two most politically important ethnic groups, Latvians and Baltic Germans, assessing the process by which Latvians negotiated the city's historically Baltic German spaces. How Latvian society chose to interpret the historical and symbolic meaning of those spaces and structures (and Baltic Germans' reactions) sheds light not only on interethnic relations during the transitional period following the First World War, but also on opportunities (and pitfalls) for efforts to improve interethnic relations in the multi-ethnic Riga of today.

Languages:  English (native), German (Superior/near-native), Latvian (Advanced), Russian (Intermediate)